Last Wednesday night, Meg went to bed as she normally does: takes a milk bottle (8 oz, usually), goes to sleep within 15-20 min, and we are out of the room within 30 min. She woke up around 10:30 and had more milk, and had to be rocked to sleep again. If I remember correctly, she woke up again in the 1:00 hour and had to be rocked to sleep yet again.
3:30 am rolls around, and she won’t go back down. She will fall asleep, but we can’t lay her back in the crib without her waking up. We finally bring her to bed with us, causing me to stay in bed and skip an hour of work. Brooke, luckily, was on spring break, so she didn’t have to be at work at 7:30 am.
Meg really hadn’t slept through the night but for a handful of times since last November when she had strep. Sometimes, she’d wake up once per night, sometimes two. This past week or so, it had gone up to 3 or 4 times a night. Wednesday night was the last straw. 3:30 am until 6:00 am is simply ridiculous when you have a one-year-old that doesn’t have an ear infection, and whose teeth aren’t causing that much pain: she’d been given Orajel and a few doses of Tylenol throughout the night.
Granted, Meg has battled various sicknesses and multiple ear infections, and the teething has been an issue more recently. But to our knowledge, nothing was physically wrong with her now. She was just escalating the times she’d wake up in the middle of the night, and simply would not go back to sleep on her own.
Brooke did some research, posted a plea for help on Facebook, and went to the library on Friday to see what books she could find. She settled on “The Happiest Toddler On The Block,” by Harvey Karp. Mostly, we used the book for the sleeping portion, although I’m sure Brooke will read the rest of it for other interesting tidbits.
Basically, there were a few possibilities outlined in the book to try with your kid, and I will briefly summarize them here:
- Immediately when your child starts crying, go into their room, pick them up, soothe them until they stop crying, and then put them down again in the crib. If the start crying again, pick them up and do it again. And again and again. This can take 20-50 times when you first try it, though it will decrease each time you do it.
- Let your child cry for 3 minutes, then open their door, look to make sure they haven’t thrown up or injured themselves, then say “I love you, it is time for you to go to sleep, goodnight,” and then close the door again. As they will undoubtably continue crying, go back in 5 minutes and do it again, then go back in 10 minutes and do it again, and finally go back every 15 minutes thereafter until they go to sleep, constantly reminding you that you’re there, even though they can’t see you. This method could take up to 5 nights, with the third night being the worst. The crying could last an hour, easily, especially for the first few nights.
We chose the second option, as the first one never seemed to work in the past (or any portion of the method).
As we really didn’t want to risk a repeat of Wednesday night, we went ahead and decided to start Friday night. We went out to dinner at the Starlight Room (very good!), and got ice cream at Dairy Queen. We had a very pleasant Friday night, in preparation for what was to come…
Meg went down by 7:30 just as she normally does, and then she woke up around 10:30. Brooke was already in bed, and as it was Friday night and I was staying up gaming anyway, I took the first shift. I did exactly as the book prescribed, and used the stopwatch on my phone to make sure I went in at 3 min, 5 min, 10 min, etc. Brooke stayed in bed and listened, just in case Meg started doing something unhealthy (aside from screaming at the tip-toppest of her lungs). She also gave me a few pointers, as I wasn’t being “soothing enough” the first two times I poked my head in… 😛
It was around midnight when she finally stopped. I think it was 11:45, the last time I actually went into the room, but I stayed up later to make sure she didn’t cry for the next 20-30 min.
She was likely tired out after that ordeal that she didn’t wake up again until around 4:00 am. Brooke got up that time and went in, but she only had to once. Meg fell asleep after Brooke went in and went through the routine.
Meg slept until 7:00 then. Not bad for the first night!
The second night, Meg woke up multiple times, but never cried up until the 3 min line, so we never poked our heads in. Never got up. Not bad for the second night.
And last night?
Not a peep.
Not one, aside from a little coughing here and there.
Yes, on the third night, Meg slept from 7:00 pm until 7:00 am. No crying.
Obviously, we’ll see how this translates into Night #4. We’re off to a good start, certainly. Because we have started this, we are also being more cognizant of giving her a sippy cup to use throughout the day, for both milk and apple juice. It was good that we started this on a weekend so we could monitor how much she was drinking. Yesterday, she had 4 sippy cups-worth of fluids, so she was certainly getting enough out of it. Since she isn’t drinking as much (or at all) during the night, she transferred most of her fluids to the daytime. So long as this continues while she’s at daycare, we should be good to go.
I’m sure we’ll still have some bad nights ahead of us, as the teething hasn’t stopped and she will surely get another ear infection or two, but at least now we have a plan and solid footing for a workable sleep schedule: for the whole family.
“Let Her Cry,” indeed.